New Windsor Watch keeps streets quiet Volunteers needed to join the patrol

November 11, 1993|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Staff Writer

In a photo caption accompanying a story about the New Windsor Community Watch in Thursday's Carroll County editions, a man was misidentified. The man on the left is Josh Lindemon.

The Sun regrets the error.

They traveled in a pack -- the kind that spills into the roadway because New Windsor sidewalks are too narrow for their numbers.

Late Monday night, the group congregated outside the fire hall, their laughter and banter intermittently puncturing the silence.

"Man, I was just at the end of 'Star Trek,' " Rick Hill told his companions as the group walked down High Street. "And then I remembered I had to come out here."

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

So began the almost-weekly trek of the ever-faithful -- if somewhat disgruntled -- Community Watch members who promised to help keep the peace as New Windsor sleeps.

Following an organizational meeting attended by 100 people, the Community Watch was established in March to combat increasing instances of vandalism.

But enthusiasm for the program has waned, leaving a core group of fewer than 10 men to patrol the quiet streets before and after the 10 p.m. youth curfew.

In hopes of rejuvenating support for the project, Watch Coordinator Paul Garver is holding a meeting tonight at Town Hall.

"You know, we don't want to have to do this all the time," Mr. Garver said. "All this walking around, and it's cold. This gets old after awhile."

Along with a shared desire to see others get involved with the project, the rest of Monday night's crew also shared Mr. Garver's zeal for securing their town against would-be vandals.

As they walked through alleys, across fields and along streets, six members of the watch discussed the problems -- from youngsters standing in the street to destruction of property -- that have angered town residents.

"When it was real warm out, we had a problem with them sitting down here on this porch . . . at this apartment building," Mr. Hill said, pointing to a house near the end of Church Street. "And the music . . . gosh."

Mr. Hill said an elderly woman who used to enjoy sitting on her nearby porch no longer does so.

"Yeah, a lot of older people stay off the streets now," said Ken Sutherland, another Watch regular. "You used to have people walking the streets to get their exercise and stuff, but you hardly see them anymore."

The group walked by the foot of Main Street, where the New Windsor Inn attracts a crowd older, but not much quieter, than the kids often found responsible for causing trouble.

The inn was quiet as the group split up to cover a wider area toward the east end of Main Street.

"This is your spot," Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr., a Watch regular, said as he moved to the corner of High and Main streets in front of John T. Connell's rental office. Residents complained in the summer about the youths who gathered nightly on the corner. "This is the coolest spot in town for some reason."

Mr. Hill moved into the center of the street.

"No, here is the cool spot, right here," he yelled to the group. "I don't know why they want to stand here.

"When the school bus comes, they're out here. The school bus has to wait until they get out of the way," Mr. Hill said. "It's not just at nighttime. I come up here to take my kids to the baby-sitter, and they're standing out here in the road."

The watchers followed roads that led them to the usual checking sites: the Brethren Service Center, the Firemen's Carnival Grounds, and the 7-Eleven at the edge of town.

Store employees help the watchers by writing down the license tag numbers of people who enter the store and act suspiciously.

When authorities were searching for several young men who had thrown eggs at a car in town, 7-Eleven employees supplied the tag number of a car with teen-age occupants who had purchased a large number of eggs that night.

The young men eventually were caught, with empty egg cartons as evidence. They lived outside town, a point noted by the Community Watch members who agree that the town's young people can't be blamed for everything.

"All minors suffer because we have about three rotten apples," Mayor Gullo said, after gesturing to a cardboard sign on the 7-Eleven door warning minors that only two would be allowed in the store and only for five minutes. "Any minor who comes into town suffers."

Although the community watchers are few, the group believes their presence makes the kids who do cause problems -- and members generally know repeat offenders by name -- think twice.

"I can tell you it's probably about 80 percent of the kids that think we're OK, and the other [children] basically look at us like they look at police," said Josh Lindemon, who moved to New Windsor from Baltimore about 18 months ago.

"We have not come out here to hassle the kids. I don't just come out here to catch them doing something wrong," Mr. Lindemon said.

"What I came out here to say is, 'Kids, you can't do this any more. This is what the people are unhappy with.' "

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